Uganda’s agricultural body points frustrated farmers to fortunes

training-local-farmers-demoFive years ago Kansiimire Francis could not feed his young family and despite his tireless efforts in agriculture; his two acre farm barely gave him the returns to support him. Frustrated, the father of three pondered on moving to Kampala to change his livelihood but was deterred by his low academic background having only managed to finish his primary level education.

Kansiimire’s fortunes changed for better when he joined Kaanana Modern farmers Group. His introduction to the farmer group was a game changer to his fortunes especially given the fact that the group was registered and received support from National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs). He had a keen interest in bee keeping and as fate would have it, NAADs first project with the group was training and facilitation of members into the practice.

"I had a passion for bee-keeping even when I was still young and my skills in the sector were boosted when I attended an earlier training workshop which was organised by ULAMP project in 2008,” He said. Despite having been trained in bee-keeping, it was not until 2010 when he was introduced to the NAADS programme that Kasiimire started living his dream. Luckily for him, his farmer group was also registered under NAADS, setting him on a long road to success. The NAADs training which lasted for three months included farm visits to various bee keeping projects, management and value addition.

Through NAADS training he acquired skills on making modern bee hives and even improving local hives to include a queen excluder. He is now a well accomplished trainer artisan for hives."I have become a trainer in this enterprise both within and outside my sub-county. I have been hired to train farmers in Kabale, Mbarara, and Kamwenge,” he narrated. Kasiimire’s bee keeping project currently has over 60 bee hives.from which he harvests over 300 litres of honey annually. He sells a litre of honey at about Sh200 and explained that his annual expenditure including labour and materials is not more than sh3000.

"Marketing honey is not a problem because as we talk now I have enough orders from my customers some of whom stretch from as far as Kampala,” he explained. According to him, his product is sought after due to its’ high quality and unlike other unscrupulous traders, he doesn’t mix it with any other solution to increase the quantity.

 The returns from his apiary project has enabled him acquire two dairy cows. I was trained to alwas diversify our ventures so that, we are having a flow of income throughout the year. Depending on the climatic conditions, honey is harvested twice a year and what will be the source of income for the other remainder of time when it’s not the season for harvesting honey. Adding that, "I no longer buy milk for my family because I milk my two cows which I bought using money from honey. The cows produce about 35 litres of milk per day and I sell a liter at about Sh30 thus supplementing my family’s income.” The return from the milk is also what Kansimire uses to buy feeds and pay the cow attendant.

The success that has been synonymous with Kansiimire has catapulted him to fame with many farmers around his region yearning to emulate him. Some farmers have approached me for the key to my success and as a result, I have set aside every Saturday afternoon for trainings and demonstrations especially in bee keeping. He boasts of having trained several farmers like over 100 farmers from his village who are also on their path to stardom.